Ben Andreozzi, a Pennsylvania lawyer representing one of the eight alleged victims in the Penn State sex scandal, said the Jerry Sandusky interviews conducted this week left him appalled, and countered the former assistant football coach's assertions that the victims involved were backing out of testifying.
Sandusky and his lawyer, Joseph Amendola, have been on a media blitz this week, beginning with Sandusky's phone interview with Bob Costas on NBC's Rock Center with Brian Williams and Amendola's appearance on CNN's Anderson Cooper 360.
In the interviews, both men proclaimed Sandusky's innocence, and dismissed the 40 charges of child sex abuse against him as largely exaggerations and misunderstandings.
Andreozzi said he was horrified by the former assistant coach's attempts to downplay the abuse as horseplay, and Amendola's assurance that that at least half of the boys involved in the case may end up disputing the allegations.
He told The New York Times that his client, now in his mid-20s, met Sandusky through the former defensive coordinator's charity of at-risk youth, The Second Mile, and was assaulted by Sandusky multiple times.
At first, he had been hesitant about testifying, but after Sandusky's interview with Bob Costas Monday night, he has decided he must do so.
Lawyer Appalled By Sandusky Interviews
Andreozzi views the comments made during Sandusky's phone interview and Amendola's television appearance as a combination of victim-blaming and intimidation. If that was their strategy however, the victim's lawyer can assure them that it failed.
Mr. Sandusky suggested, in some of his comments about the victims, that maybe people were backing off, Andreozzi said. My client heard this, and he has dug in his heels... He was absolutely more ready to follow through with this afterward.
Amendola, in his interview with Cooper, painted a very different picture of the charges against Sandusky, and cast doubt on whether any of the victims had even come forward in the case.
They [prosecutors] have other people who are saying they saw something, but they don't have actual people saying, 'This is what Jerry did to me,' Amendola said in the interview. We're working to find those people, and when the time comes, and if we are able to do that, we think this whole case will change dramatically.
Andreozzi, who has advised other victims in the Penn State scandal and will meet with another this week, told The Times that Sandusky was a coward forcing his victims to relive their experiences.
I am appalled by the fact that Mr. Sandusky has elected to revictimize these young men at a time when they should be healing, the lawyer said.
Sexual assault victims can begin the healing process if there's an acknowledgment of fault. Mr. Sandusky could assist in that process and instead he is putting these young men through it again.
As to victims changing their stories or refusing to come forward, Andreozzi agrees that the case will change dramatically when it is time to testify, but not in the way Amendola asserts.
Instead, the interviews have caused others besides Andreozzi's client to agree to come forward, with none changing their story or backing down. The evidence they give meanwhile, is becoming increasingly more damning.
The comments maybe backfired, Andreozzi reported. They [Sandusky and Amendola] have caused victims to be more motivated to testify against him.
Andreozzi also said that his client, who declined to be identified before testifying, wanted to give the former Penn State assistant coach a message about the recent scandal. He wants the Second Mile founder to know that he fully intends to testify that he was severely sexually assaulted by Mr. Sandusky.
Penn State: Shame on You
Ben Andreozzi also had a message, though this one was addressed to Penn State University as a whole: shame on you.
They could have a victim-centric approach to this, Andreozzi said, but it appear they have been in a face-saving mode.
As the allegations against Sandusky became more and more sordid, PSU firedhead football coach Joe Paterno and forced the resignations of Tim Curley and Gary Schultz, two high-ranking officials within the university's sports programs.
Penn State has come under fire however, for only taking steps after the fact. Several eyewitness testimonies and incidents of possible sexual assault on minors were reported to those within the university and then quietly swept under the rug, without being reported to the police. A timeline of the abuse shows it stretching back to 1994, with an official police report filed in 1998.
Andreozzi also feels Penn State could be doing much more for the victims now, and that just like Sandusky, they could turn what he deems their shameful behavior into a quest for healing.
They could be proactive, and offer to pay for counseling and let the victims participate in the rebuilding of the school, the lawyer said. They could help to adopt policies and procedures that will prevent sexual assaults on the campus.
Instead, he feels, Penn State has focused only on damage control, and is missing a big opportunity to help victims, students and alumni heal.
He also says however, that it's not too late to do so. The details of the Penn State sex abuse scandal, he warns, are only just beginning to see the light.
I have my finger on the pulse of this case, Andreozzi said, and this is a situation that is only going to grow.
When I represent a sexual abuse victim we start with one or maybe two clients, but as the ball gets rolling forward more victims almost always come forward.